Friday, March 15, 2013

We Nerded Out for Pi π Day on

Whether or not you're brave enough to admit it, deep in your heart, you know that March 14th isn't just any other day. It's Pi (π) day. A day based solely on the love of the mathematical constant representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Before Pi, March 14th was just another day, now, it's a reason to make pie. If you're that special combination of awesome that happens to recognize the significance of the day, or you're looking to impress a somewhat nerdy lover, it's time to break out your apron and horned rimmed glasses, we've got some work to do.

Though you may not have noticed it, or perhaps you're an unfortunate that doesn't have a local Trader Joe's, the chain has decided to up the ante on awesome. They've come out with a store brand of the somewhat elusive Biscoff, that also happens to remain vegan.


These cookies have a cinnamon-y depth, almost a rich caramel flavor that is absolutely begging to be pie crust. You see, as much as I may like to consume it, pie just doesn't flow as easily or as naturally as the other desserts. I've met the beast that is pie crust head on, battled a fortnight, and in the tired, bruised end, emerged the winner. Can I do it? Sure! Do I want to? How about a cookie crust? As a bonus, these make a killer base for coconut creme pie. Put down that rolling pin and trust me, I only want what's best.

Coconut Creme Pie
(because I haven't had one in about 14 years and that just ain't right)
1 cup cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours)
1 15 oz can of Coconut milk
1 cup Sugar
Scant tsp Salt
1/4 cup Bird's Custard Powder (You can sub cornstarch in a pinch)
2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Coconut Cream
1/4 cup of Coconut oil (broken into small pieces, not melted)
2 cups Unsweetened shredded coconut
1 Pack Speculoos cookies (or any cookie that strikes your fancy)
2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil or margarine (to mix with the crumbled cookies)

Preheat your oven to 375° F
Now to start off, there's no soy in this pie, but it's a custard. How do we work this wizardry? We soak some cashews! Abra-ca-soak!

This is a cup of cashews in enough water to cover them, for about two hours. You can test the readiness by taking one out and squeezing it. If it splits, crumbles, or yields in any way, you're ready.

In the meantime, take your entire pack of cookies for a spin in your food processor or blender. Combine these with your melted coconut oil or margarine, and press down into a greased 9" pie plate. Pop this in your oven for 10 minutes to set it.

Once your cashews are properly soaked, blend them with about 1/3 cup of water in a food processor or blender to form a loose puree, or cream. This will take a bit, you're looking for smoothness. If it's balling up on you, add a few more tablespoons of water.

In a large bowl, pour your coconut milk, custard powder (or cornstarch),  and whisk like nobody's business. If you're using the Bird's custard powder, you'll notice a delightful shade of pale orange, but just keep whisking until there are no lumps of dry powder.

As far as solid coconut oil goes, I have a gallon tub of the stuff. I'm very serious about my coconut oil. Because my vessel is so large, I can scrape what i need with a spoon to get curls of solid oil. For a mason jar of coconut oil, scoop out enough spoonfuls for the 1/3 of a cup, then break that mass down into chunks. The end goal is to evenly distribute the oil through the rest of the custard, like a colloidal suspension. Come on, it's Pi day, you need to geek it up a bit. Add the solid coconut oil, coconut creme, vanilla, and shredded coconut, and whisk like you mean it.
Once that's nicely combined, add in your cashew cream, and resume whisking.
Now that one arm is really strong, you're ready to go. Gently pour your custard into your pie crust. Don't just dump it in there like some brute.

Bake this wonderful representation of a mathematical constant for 35-40 minutes. When you pull it out, it shouldn't jiggle wildly, only slightly. Cool on a wire rack.

Now this is important, it smells wonderful, and it tastes pretty good warm from the oven, but leave it alone! This pie does beautifully chilled over night in the fridge. It sets the custard, allows it to relax, and for the flavors to develop. It really does a world of difference chilled overnight in both flavor and texture. I can't stress that enough. In fact, bake it the day before Pi (π)day, so you can spend the actual day languishing in the glory that is this pie.


If you recite it to the 5th decimal point by heart, you can reward yourself  with another slice!

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